A Group of 69 Sri Lankans arrive from Thailand.

A Group of 69 Sri Lankans arrive from Thailand

A group 69 Sri Lankans who were stranded in various cities in Thailand for nearly two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation were repatriated this evening via a special Maldivian Airlines charter flight Q2 6351, by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Bangkok.

The special flight carrying the Sri Lankan students, government officials, Sri Lankans who were on short term visit visa to Thailand, and several others on urgent humanitarian grounds, following the criteria specified by the Government based on relative vulnerabilities to the COVID-19, landed at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, on Sunday 17th May 2020 evening. All repatriated individuals will undergo the necessary medical tests, and will be directed by the Sri Lankan security forces and health authorities to the mandatory quarantine centers, both State-sponsored and self-paid private hotels, designated by the Government of Sri Lanka.

This special repatriation flight arrived in Bangkok on 17th May evening from Male-Maldives, carrying a group of stranded Thai citizens, as organized by the Royal Thai Embassy in Colombo and HE Madam Chulamanee Chartsuwan, the Ambassador of Thailand to Sri Lanka. The very cordial relations and collaboration between the two Embassies paved the way to initiate this Maldivian Airlines charter flight to repatriate the Sri Lankans back to Colombo on its return journey.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Bangkok acknowledge the close cooperation and prompt directions received from the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka, including from Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha, the Ministry’s COVID-19 Focal Point, and the South East Asia Division, in liaising with the Advisor of the Presidential Secretariat, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Colombo Airport ground handling operations, for their urgent approvals and ready support in making this repatriation process a success. The Embassy also received excellent support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, the provincial authorities through the Ministry of Interior, and the staff of the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, in facilitating the repatriation of this first group of Sri Lankans from Thailand, who had been registered with the Embassy and in the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ online portal created by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, requesting assistance to return to Sri Lanka.

The support of the Maldivian Airlines, its local Agent in Bangkok-the LTU Asia Aviation, and H.E Ambassador Mohamed Jinah, the Ambassador of Maldives in Bangkok and Dr. Nenette Motus, the Director of the Regional office of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bangkok deserves our sincere appreciation for their prompt responses and support. Ambassadors and colleagues of Sri Lanka Missions in South Asia and South East Asia, who have done similar repatriation operations in the past weeks readily and willingly shared their experiences with us, which made our work easier amidst numerous challenges of our own.

The Embassy acknowledges and appreciates the solidarity and generosity expressed by the Sri Lanka Association in Thailand (SLAT), and its President Mr. Sanjeewa Ediri Wickramasuriya, and the Thai- Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce and its President Mr. Akram Saroof, for all the assistance provided to the stranded Sri Lankans in need, for nearly two months in numerous ways, during this Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the well-known Sri Lankan restaurant ‘Manel Lanka’ in Bangkok, and caterer Mr. Prabath Nilantha Wimalaratne volunteered in providing free daily Sri Lankan cooked meals to those Sri Lankans in need in Bangkok.

Earlier in the month, the Embassy also made arrangements to repatriate to Thailand from Lao PDR, a young Sri Lankan pregnant lady with serious complications that could have brought in life threatening situation to the mother and the unborn baby, who was considered a very premature baby, according to the doctors. The Embassy later learnt that it’s timely facilitation of this urgent humanitarian medical evacuation, amidst strict regulations that prevailed regarding cross-border movement of people into Thailand to prevent spread of COVID-19, saved both the mother and the baby. Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul in Lao PDR and several Sri Lankan friends of the family gave excellent support the Embassy to facilitate this urgent medical evacuation to Thailand, and now both the mother and the baby are recovering well at the Thai hospital, said the new born baby’s father.

Embassy of Sri Lanka-Bangkok
17th May 2020

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